New web app weighs in on food choices

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

'Burn it to earn it' is the philosophy behind a novel web application developed by international nutrition expert Professor Clare Collins and her team at the University of Newcastle.

Prof Clare Collins

The app (, aimed at healthy weight management, shows how much of your favourite foods you have earned based on how far you have walked. It addresses common misconceptions around how much energy we really burn up, compared to the kilojoules in our favourite foods.

"Typically, people overestimate how much of their favourite foods they can afford to consume with respect to their physical activity. After a long walk or jog they may think they have 'earned' a chocolate bar, a packet of chips, or a schooner of beer. In reality they are more likely to have expended the energy equivalent of only two or three chips out of the packet, one or two squares of chocolate , or a couple of sips of beer," said Professor Clare Collins.

The app offers an alternative to traditional weight management approaches, where users consume first and then calculate how much exercise they need to do to burn it off.

"Instead of consuming foods with a plan to burn off the energy later, users are able to see how much energy they have burned and choose food portions accordingly," said Professor Collins

The app works by tracking the user's number of steps. The user enters whatever food they wish to consume, and based on calculations that translate the steps into the level of energy expended, the app informs the user how much of that food they have already 'earned'.

"We hope this app will help people make informed food choices, which will help them make healthier food choices," said Professor Collins.

"The app also offers examples of foods users could have a whole serve of. So while they might find they can have just one or two bites of their favourite cake, they could have an entire apple, or a handful of strawberries," she said.

Currently in the pilot phase, the app maps walking routes at the University of Newcastle Callaghan Campus. GPS capability will be added during the next phase of development to enable the app to be used at any location.

Released in time for 'Australia's Healthy Weight Week' 17-23 February, the app was put to the test at the 'earn it to burn it challenge' in the Advanced Technology Centre on Tuesday 18 February.

  • Sheena Martin, Media and Public Relations
  • Phone: +61 4921 8714.

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